Posts Tagged ‘ prosocial behavior ’

Mimic Your Toddler (Here’s Why And How)

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Newborns like to copy you – if you stick out your tongue at them, they might stick their tongue out too. Toddlers like it when you copy them – and it helps them develop socially according to a new study published in Child Development

What Did The Study Do? 18-month-olds were brought (with a parent) into a playroom / laboratory. An experimenter played with the toddler as they moved about the room (there were interesting things for them to play with, climb on, etc). Half of the toddlers were then “mimicked” in a “friendly” way – basically whatever the toddler did, the experimenter did. The experimenter left the room briefly and returned. Then the experimenter did something that could require help – dropping sticks or having difficulty opening a cabinet.

What Was The Effect of Being Mimicked? The toddlers who were imitated were significantly more likely to help the experimenter than those who were not copied. Mimicked toddlers were also more likely to help another experimenter (not the one who mimicked them) when they needed help.

What Does All This Mean? According to the researchers, it’s clear that mimicry sends a prosocial message to toddlers – or put another way, it’s a fundamental way to promote social connection and bonding. Now of course you are not going to spend your day copying your toddler. But when you on the floor playing with your toddler, go ahead and mimic them. They’ll not only like it – it will help develop their prosocial capacities and reinforce their instinct to help others in need. And of course this is just a specific example of a more general principle – promoting reciprocity between you and your toddler. Nothing is more reinforcing to a laughing toddler than to get that laugh back.

Laughing Dad and Child via

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Replace Violence With Education: Just Change The Channel Your Toddler Is Watching

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

We always hear that we need to limit the amount of TV toddler’s watch. That’s true. But a new study suggests that even without reducing viewing time, changing the content can have beneficial effects on social development. 

The study was straightforward. One group of parents was trained to replace shows that have violent content with shows that model “prosocial” behavior (like Sesame Street). Another group of parents received no instructions. Nothing was done about the amount of TV watched by the kids.

The results were also straightforward. The kids who watched more prosocial content had less aggression and better social behavior, even one year later. And this result was independent of the amount of TV watched – which didn’t seem to matter.

So, here’s a simple thing parents can do to help prevent aggression and promote prosocial behavior in their toddlers – control the content. Common sense? Sure. But it’s common sense supported by research, which is the best combination of all. And all it takes is parental control of the remote.

TV remote via


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